Saturday, May 31, 2008

Science Gives Us The Numbers, We Make the Meaning

800,000 - the number of years for which CO2 levels in the Earth's recent past have been measured in a new analysis of ice core data.

180-280 – the range of CO2 levels (in parts per million) during all but the last 100 of those 800,000 years.

385 – the current level of CO2 in the atmosphere.

60 - the percentage of 1,598 species examined in a new study who have already been affected by climate change.

These are just numbers, the products of science and careful measurement. The most they can do is tell us what is happening. They can't tell us what to think about it. Or what to feel. Or what to do.

We all have to do that for ourselves in the ways that are right for us - in silence in the woods, in noisy debate around the kitchen table, in prayer in our faith communities, at the ballot box, and, maybe, in public when we raise our voices to say loudly, fully, clearly, exactly what we think about these numbers, what we feel, and what, exactly what, it is the elected leaders who hold the public trust need to do.

Numbers are only numbers. Data is only data. Numbers alone, without our response, don't shape the future.

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